From rain to snow to sleet to hail—what’s weather without water? According to Ronelle Williams ’09, the weekday morning meteorologist at KSNW-TV in Wichita, Kansas, water is the weather ingredient that puts the fun in forecasting.
“Without any water there wouldn’t be any of the ‘fun’ or interesting weather,” Ronelle said. “Our planet would be pretty barren.”
Born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., Ronelle collected newspaper clippings of severe weather events around the country as a child—later watching storm chaser VHS tapes to feed his fascination for the weather. Since graduating with a SUNY Oswego meteorology degree, he’s been an on-air meteorologist in Missouri and Kansas, and in 2016 was awarded a certified broadcast meteorologist designation by the American Meteorological Society.
Ronelle’s tools of the trade include water vapor satellite imagery and rain gauges—the latter often used by viewers to provide locally specific data on how much rain has fallen. But among his favorite watery weather phenomena isn’t the rain—it’s waterspouts, like those seen over the Great Lakes, and particularly Lake Ontario.
“Waterspouts are technically tornadoes,” Ronelle said. “They’re typically weaker but should be taken just as seriously as a tornado over land.”
Ronelle’s other favorite? Lake effect snow, of course.
“Even though it can cause headaches for travelers, it’s also a phenomenon that only happens in a handful of places around the world,” he said. “Upstate New York and the Great Lakes are unique because of this. It definitely made me a good driver in the winter.”
Since his latest job post doesn’t offer the same weather as the Great Lakes region of his youth and college days, Ronelle—who loves checking out restaurants and diners wherever he is—also enjoys a nice spring or summer rain storm.
“Ahead of the rain a gust front will come through, creating a cool breeze,” he said. “And then the smell of the rain hits you. It’s the next best thing to a lake or ocean breeze.”